Apogee Journal

reclaiming the margins

Representing Difference In Writing – The Rumpus

by apogeelit

The Rumpus has posted a thoughtful essay by Delaney Nolan about writing poor, black characters as a white fiction writer.

The purpose of good literature, as far as I can tell, is to find a common human ground that we can all relate to. So I’m not going to represent difference by pretending like I know exactly where Marie’s coming from, or by throwing in a rainbow-colored cast. But I know, at least, some things we have in common now. I know what it’s like to rely on family who’re in a hard place themselves. I know what it’s like to be isolated, to be powerless. I know what it’s like to be, in some sense, unhoused. I don’t know precisely what life is for the people on Marais Street, but I can get myself partway there, and the rest of that bridge is what makes fiction necessary and superlative—empathy, understanding, and a sincere belief in some common thread of humanity.

Read the rest here.

The Gray Area: Gentrification in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights

by apogeelit


by Alexandra Watson, Editor-in-Chief


As a mixed-race graduate student at Columbia living in Hamilton Heights, a neighborhood in Harlem destined for “urban renewal,” my relationship to the word gentrification is ambivalent. As a child, I associated the word “gentrification” solely with white people—I thought it referred specifically and only to the moving of white people into a neighborhood. In popular usage, among my peers and members of my family both black and white, this seems to be the way the word has come to be understood, despite the fact that the word’s real definition refers solely to class and property—“the buying and renovation of stores and houses in deteriorated urban neighborhoods.” The word has taken on a negative connotation, oftentimes rightfully so—gentrification strips a neighborhood of its history, it drives out long-term residents, it either appropriates or overruns culture.

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“EXTRAÑO,” by Esteban Cabeza de Baca

by apogeelit

Apogee presents our first Visual Arts Overshare,* from Issue Two: “EXTRAÑO,” by Esteban Cabeza de Baca.



Esteban Cabeza de Baca

Oil on canvas, 12″ × 9″


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“The Social Equation,” by EJ Koh

by apogeelit

Unexpected, bold, and full of the complex frustration that stereotyping invokes in the stereotyped: EJ Koh’s poem “The Social Equation,” is the next installment in our Overshare series.* 


“YOU don’t know how good it is to be female…”

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Donate To Our Kickstarter, Feel Good!

by apogeelit

Donate To Our Kickstarter, Feel Good!

For Apogee Issue 3, we’re bringing you more great writing from authors you do know and from lots that you should know. We’ll also be upgrading our website, and selling more print journals. All we need is a little help from you. We just launched a new Kickstarter to help print more copies of Issue 2, and to help with costs for our re-launch with Issue 3. Please visit the website–read, watch, and consider donating. Every little bit helps!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Is Making All The Boys Cry, And That’s A Good Thing

by apogeelit


by Zinzi Clemmons, Managing Editor; Photo (c) Independent UK

Last week, readers around the world observed a debate surrounding Nigerian writers and the biggest literary prize in Africa, and centering on one of the continent’s most prominent literary stars. On July 10, Boston Review posted an excellent interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on race, her great new novel Americanah, and many subjects in between. One part of the interview in particular caught attention for its mention of Africa’s prestigious literary honor, the recently-awarded Caine Prize for African Writing:

AB: I would love to ask you about the Caine Prize. I find it interesting that so many Nigerians are on the short list this year—that it’s four Nigerians out of five . . .

CA: Umm, why is that a problem? Watch it.

AB: Well, none of them are you!

CA: Elnathan was one of my boys in my workshop. But what’s all this over-privileging of the Caine Prize, anyway? I don’t want to talk about the Caine Prize, really. I suppose it’s a good thing, but for me it’s not the arbiter of the best fiction in Africa. It’s never been. I know that Chinelo is on the short list, too. But I haven’t even read the stories—I’m just not very interested. I don’t go the [sic] Caine Prize to look for the best in African fiction.

AB: Where do you go?

CA: I go to my mailbox, where my workshop people send me their stories. I could give you a list of ten—mostly in Nigeria—writers who I think are very good. They’re not on the Caine Prize short list.

Among those who picked up on her dismissal of the prize were some of its nominees. Elnathan John (referred to as “one of her boys”, a phrase that won a subset of criticism all its own) penned a series of frustrated tweets, and then a post on his blog that details his interactions with Adichie, from participating in her Farafina Creative Writing workshop in Lagos, to her increasingly sparse emails to him, to the interview in question. The entire string of events is summed up very well here. The most curt response (and that’s a generous description) came from fellow nominee Abubakar A. Ibrahim:

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Notes from “A Guide to Drag Kinging”, by Franny Choi

by apogeelit

Apogee Journal is pleased to share the first nonfiction piece in our Overshare series,* Franny Choi’s Notes from “A Guide to Drag Kinging.”


“AS YOU PROWL the sidewalk, cross the stage, lights hot and bright on your face, on the front of your pants, feel it hanging, shifting with each step, strapped tight into shorts. Armed and ready, standing at attention. Soon, you will find it affecting your walk, longer lunges that land like declarative sentences…”


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“Eviction Notice,” by Brian Patrick Heston

by apogeelit

While the Trayvon Martin trial hangs over all of us here at Apogee, despite some small triumphs, some cool blog projects, and the protests that continue — albeit misreported — we thought this poem by Brian Patrick Heston, published in Issue Two of Apogee, fits well as this week’s content share.

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We Grieve for Trayvon Martin

by apogeelit

The events of yesterday weigh heavily on our hearts. We grieve for the loss of a son, brother and friend, Trayvon Martin, and for the further pain this trial has inflicted on his family and friends.

The entire event strengthens our commitment to equality, and to emboldening the voices of those who are systematically rendered powerless.

We are part of the same struggle, and today, we are inspired by the strength of Trayvon’s parents and supporters, to fight harder for justice for those who cannot fight themselves.

The Apogee team


For insight and useful analysis on the Trayvon Martin trial, here are some articles the Apogee team recommends:

Jelani Cobb at the New Yorker

The Nation on White Supremacy

Cord Jefferson at Gawker on Being Young, Black and Male in America

Gary Younge at The Guardian, on the Open Season on Black Boys

David Simon at The Audacity of Despair


“That Spring Work,” by Alberto Gullaba

by apogeelit

We’re as thrilled as freshly popped toast to bring you the first piece of fiction in Apogee Journal’s Overshare series,* “That Spring Work,” by Alberto Gullaba. The story begins:


“IT came that time of year again, when the minor plundering of First Year Dorms died down, and everyone was looking to wife something, to find some steady, round the way chick you wouldn’t mind bringing around your boys, a lady that could hold you down for the rest of year, maybe longer if it weren’t so shameful to admit that deep down, you was a suckafahlove…” 


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